Great Kills Yacht Club – Staten Island, NY – Wednesday, 6/2
Today was a very very long day, but one full of great accomplishment by the crew of Island Office. We woke up early and left the dock at Rock Hall Landing Marina at 6:00 am as planned. It was an overcast sky and was expected to stay that way all day, but little wind was forecasted so we felt good about our plans.
As mentioned in the last post, our goal was to go as far as possible today, with a realistic goal of getting to Atlantic City or even Manasquan, NJ by the end of the day. But we were going to take it one step at a time, and the first step was to get off the Chesapeake Bay. We spent 2 hours cruising along, passing a few racing sailboats headed in the opposite direction (was there a regatta in Annapolis this weekend?), and actually being passed by a few sport-fishing boats. And with little wind, it was very calm on the water. We also passed by some nice homes, and some mobile homes that have one the best sunset views on the Chessy.
Around 8:00 am we entered the Chesapeake & Delaware (C&D) canal and noticed a few sights along the way:
This narrow canal is pretty much a straight shot, with a few curves and very tall bridges that cross this 12-mile waterway. There are some beautiful houses on both sides and you pass by Chesapeake City on the eastern (southern) side of the waterway. One of the first “landmarks” spotted just before coming to Chesapeake City is Dann Marine, a barge, tow and marine company that actually has a fascinating history that started in Central Florida, of all places. You can read all about it here.
Along the canal we spotted a few people walking, jogging or bicycling on the pathways that line the canal. But perhaps the most interesting thing we spotted was a lawn being mowed by remote control.
By 9:30 we were exiting the C&D Canal and headed out onto the Delaware River. There were some small waves coming from the southeast and hitting just right of our bow, so it was a little bouncy, but very tolerable. The best part was there was an outgoing tide and we picked up an additional 1.5 knots of speed that we rode all the way to the Cape May (CM) Canal. Along the way we passed several Looper boats that had left either Delaware City or Chesapeake City earlier in the day, and we had been following on our Nebo and Facebook apps. About half way down the Delaware is the Ship John (“Jack”) Lighthouse; a great aid to measuring progress on this large body of water.
And at 11:30 we entered the Cape May Canal and we were delighted that we had put one large body of water behind us today without incident.
Before continuing on we had to stop for fuel and filled up at the cheapest place we know of in New Jersey: “Miss Chris Marina” up the Spicer Creek Canal. This is in a shallow creek just before the NJ 109 Bridge that crosses over the CM Canal, and before coming into Cape May Harbor and the Atlantic ICW. We turned up the creek and negotiated around a bunch of kayakers before pulling in for the fueling. It seemed like it took forever, but finally we had filled up our fuel tanks and were back on our way.
We entered the Cape May Harbor and cruised through the channel that runs in front of the US Coast Guard station.
It was 12:30 when we exited the inlet and headed out into the Atlantic Ocean. This is the worst part of the entire trip for Denise, and gives her much anxiety. This is because she is susceptible to seasickness, there are few “bail out spots” on the NJ shore, and the ICW along this stretch is too shallow for us to navigate. And eventually, all boats must go into the Atlantic at Manasquan, so there is no getting around it.
Looking at the time and finding very favorable sea conditions, we started thinking about going all the way to Staten Island in NY. From past experience we knew it was 2 hours to Great Kills Yacht Club (GKYC) in Staten Island from Manasquan, and we had time and daylight working to our advantage. The only unknown was would the wind still stay calm and the waves stay relatively flat.
It was a little rolly at first because we were on a NE heading and the waves were slightly abreast of the boat. We passed Atlantic City (our first bail out stop) at 2: 20 pm and were still ok, so we decided to continue on with the day. Up until now we had hardly seen any other boats, passing only one cruiser and a few sport fishing boats.
We had identified Barnegat Inlet as a possible bailout, if needed, but the seas were still tolerable and we still had little wind. About 10 miles after Atlantic City the coast turns inward and we turned to a more northerly course. Then the ride got a lot smoother and more comfortable, and we decided to push on to GKYC. We had already been in communication with John C (Harbor Host at GKYC) and knew he had a slip open for us, a day earlier than originally planned.
We continued on past Barnegat Inlet and eventually Manasquan Inlet seeing a few dolphin, fishing boats, whale watching boats, a few cruising boats, and even getting buzzed by a few A10 airplanes that looked like drones. The sun was getting lower in the sky (and now making it tough to get pictures of the shoreline). However, we could easily pick out the buildings as we passed Asbury Park, Sea Bright, and eventually we could see the lighthouse at Sandy Hook.
Usually from around Manasquan we can start to see the NYC skyline, but it was so overcast and hazy we were at Asbury Park before Mark saw the outline of the buildings. As we rounded Sandy Hook and entered into the Raritan Bay, we could see the fog covering the tall buildings in the city and the famous Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.
On our way across this bay we passed fellow Looper boat “Selah Way”, whom we had been in contact with all day via our Looper FB page.
We entered the Great Kills channel and eventually the harbor to find things not much different than they were 2 years ago. Having a preassigned slip, we knew where to go, and at 6:30 pm Captain Mark successfully steered our boat into its home for the next several days.
We settled the boat and poured ourselves a much-deserved drink. We had traveled 219 nautical miles in 12.5 hours; this was our longest single-day distance cruising ever! We were happy to have this part of our trip behind us.
Our arrival prompted people on the dock, and Dave and Amy (“Selah Way”) pulled in shortly behind us. Eventually all the Loopers (“Uncorked”, “River Ranger”, “Agape”, “Conflict of Interest”) who were here came out and we had a very impromptu “Docktails”, along with John C and GKYC member Jimmy, whom we knew from previous visits.
Finally around 7:45 we broke up the party and headed back to the boat. We were hungry and desperately wanted showers. It had been a good day and we felt a great sense of accomplishment, but we were thoroughly exhausted, and after a quick bite to eat we went to bed right away.
Great Kills Yacht Club – Staten Island, NY – Thursday, 6/3
Today was a day of recovery, rest, and work. We woke to the pitter patter of rain; it had started in the early morning hours. This was just one more factor that de-motivated Denise, and she bailed on her planned run, betting up for a badly needed cup of coffee instead. Mark slept in later than usual, but he deserved it as he drove most of the way yesterday.
The weather forecast called for rain and windy weather, so we hunkered down and kept close to the boat. We did work for clients and the business, and Denise published the last blog, and cataloged pictures. We both talked with several family members and a few of the local club members who were out on the docks.
Around noon we watched “Uncorked” leave and saw another boat “Boyle-n-Water IV” come into their spot. Perfect timing as the rain had subsided and now it was just overcast. Another Looper boat came into the slot next to us, but their power requirements were bigger than the yacht club could handle and they ended up moving to the marina next door (Mansion Marina).
In the late afternoon we went for a walk up to the clubhouse and ran into some of the other Loopers. They were all headed up to the bar and we agreed to join them. Some of the folks left soon after the first drink, but Pat & Marcia (“Boyle-n-Water IV”), whom we had originally met in Norfolk, and Doug & Vickie (“Conflict of Interest”) stayed for a while. We spent time talking about our mutual cruising adventures and getting to know each other a little bit. This yacht club has the friendliest members and this is why we come here. There was one in particular who bought us all a round of drinks; not that they are expensive here. We think they live vicariously through all us Loopers and go out of their way to make us feel welcome. This is why it is our 5th visit and will most likely stay here on our way home.
We didn’t stay long at the bar, but headed back to the boat to get dinner and finish up posting the last blog update. It had been a low-key day, but one of fun, new friendships and rekindling of old familiar faces.